Braided Lemon Cream Cheese Bread

Of course, as any good baker does, I follow King Arthur on all my social media platforms. And, much like one of my favorite Food Network hosts, Valerie Bertinelli, I love all things lemon. When I saw a recipe for braided lemon bread on the King Arthur Instagram page,  you best believe I was going to be making it.

I’ll confess, I’m not great at bread. I know little tidbits from watching one too many episodes of The Great British Bake Off (actually, let’s be honest, there is NO SUCH THING as too much GBBO)…I know the window pane test, I know kneading makes the gluten strands form and become more elastic. But honestly, I can’t look at dough and say – ok, that’s perfect! It’s an under-developed skill, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like trying. While my bread may not be perfect, it does taste good and that has to count for something!

The hardest part of this recipe (for me) was keeping the filling from getting all over the place while I was figuring out how the heck to braid it. There is a video on the King Arthur website which I high recommend watching because it helped a lot.

The end result? It was SO delicious. It’s a recipe I’ve made multiple times now and keep going back to because it feels like eating a healthier (but is it, really?) version of a danish!

If you want to try your hand at it, the recipe can be found here with all the bells and whistles, and I’ve included it below! Happy Bread Baking!

Braided Lemon Bread (courtesy of King Arthur)

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 3/4 cup (170g) warm water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup (57g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Dough

  • all of the sponge
  • 3/4 cup (170g) plain or vanilla yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (99g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor or vanilla
  • 5 cups (602g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • egg wash, for brushing braid
  • pearl sugar or sparkling white sugar, for sprinkling on braid

Cream cheese filling

  • 2/3 cup (142g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (57g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup (28g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113g) prepared lemon curd

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sponge, yogurt, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and flavoring. Add 4 1/2 cups of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead on speed 2 until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to achieve the correct consistency.If you’re using a bread machine, combine all the dough ingredients in the pan and set the machine on the dough cycle. Be sure to check the dough as it kneads and adjust the flour or water as needed to achieve a soft, supple consistency. Let the cycle complete itself.
  3. If working by hand or stand mixer, place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
  4. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients (except the lemon curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.
  5. Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and set it aside as you roll out the first piece into a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Rolling on parchment paper makes moving the bread to the baking sheet much, much easier. Lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, to divide it into 3 equal sections. Spread half the cream cheese filling down the center section, and top with half the lemon curd, leaving 1″ free on all sides of the filling.
  6. To form the mock braid, cut 1″ crosswise strips down the length of the outside sections, making sure you have the same number of strips down each side. Beginning on the left, lift the top dough strip and gently bring it across the filling diagonally. Repeat on the other side with the top dough strip, so that the two strips crisscross each other. Continue down the entire braid, alternating strips to form the loaf.
  7. Repeat the rolling, filling, and braiding steps for the second piece of dough, using the remaining cream cheese filling and lemon curd. Set both loaves aside, lightly covered, to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, or until quite puffy
  8. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash (one lightly beaten egg, 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt), and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

2 thoughts on “Braided Lemon Cream Cheese Bread

  1. Nanci Hirschorn

    Hi Mindy, I also only use KA flour. When visiting your parents a few years back they took me to visit KA ….aka my Mothership 🤪 Btw… my Costco just started carrying the 10 lb. bag for $5.99. I have made an adaption of a recipe from KA for over 20 years, Swedish Almond Braid. It is also a mock braid. This is a coffee cake Lindsey and Evan request every time they visit and also ask me to make at their house. Happy to share with you if you want. Hope life is treating you well! Nanci

    # November 13, 2019 at 4:39 pm Reply
  2. Mindy

    Would love to try the recipe, Nanci! Sounds delicious – hope you give this one a go, it’s a keeper!

    # November 13, 2019 at 5:45 pm Reply

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